What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

AERANGIS FASTUOSA: THE QUINTESSENTIAL WHITE FLOWER SCENT AND ANOTHER SPRING DRAWING

Sometimes I feel like a soccer mom driving my orchid plants around to go to local shows or to the person who will transport them on the van to and from out-of town shows. A group of my blooming plants took a weekend trip to a show in Spokane, WA, on the eastern side of the state, and just got back last night.

I went to pick them up on my way home yesterday evening, just as it was starting to get dark. When I was unpacking the basket they had traveled in, I noticed a gorgeous white flower scent, something like strongly indolic gardenias and jasmine, but with that special orchid touch. It turned out to be two little Aerangis fastuosa plants, siblings that had bloomed on the same day, pumping their fragrance out with all their little orchid hearts.

Aerangis fastuosa is a miniature orchid that grows in Madagascar. It’s supposed to be a “hot grower”, but my plants have survived many cold winter nights with temperatures in the 40sF (5-10C) and bloomed like clockwork every spring. The leaves are bronze-tinted, and the roots are orange. Each flower is as big as the plant itself, pure white and clean-looking, with a long nectar spur. Like other orchids of its type, it’s pollinated by a long-tongued moth in its natural habitat.

No matter how many times I smell night-fragrant orchids, I’m always struck by the similarity of the fragrances of different species, and their resemblance to other night-fragrant white flowers. There’s a common theme even though each has its own special nuances. Some are a little spicy, some are root-beer scented, some are clean and sweet, and others are indolic. To me, Aerangis fastuosa epitomizes white flower fragrance in its purest form.

I’ve decided to hold an unusual drawing, not for a perfume, but for a young Aerangis fastuosa plant. It will be one of the offspring of the plant that went to Spokane and another unrelated plant of the same species. It’s mounted on a piece of cork bark and should be blooming size by next spring. If you’re a plant person and you’d like to be entered in the drawing, you must live in the continental US (unfortunately, plants can’t be shipped internationally) and be able to grow a mounted orchid. Just leave a comment about one or more of your favorite white flower fragrances. The drawing will be held on Sunday, April 8.

12 comments:

  1. The image of a soccer mom with an SUV full of feisty orchids noshing on McD's food really cracked me up! ;-)
    I think my sand dune can support a spider lily, though an orchid would be better grown inside at a steady 74F? Plant life outside on my dune really takes a beating over a year- storms, high winds, salt spray, severe drought...My indoor plants are all happy.
    -Marla

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  2. Hi Ellen,
    I would dearly love to have one of these little orchids but I can't honestly say that it would get the best of care indoors at my house. Only the hardiest thrive and bloom in the house for me. I have phals (gifts) that bloom all year long and tough old Sharri Baby in spike again. My experience with cork mounted plants has been great in a greenhouse and very sad indoors. My love of orchids keeps me from entering the drawing. My favorite white flower? I would say a nameless stanhopea (white with yellow spots?) or any white orchid that smells of camphor. Gail

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    Replies
    1. Gail, I've got an orchid show coming up this weekend and will be sure to pick up a Sharri Baby so that I can finally work on the perfume.

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  3. I love Aerangis! I have a Aerangis citrata x fastuosa that is currently blooming right now with a delightful citrus scent. The fragrance of Aerangis is so intoxicating.

    -Jeremy

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    Replies
    1. Jeremy, I haven't seen that cross, but it sounds wonderful. Does it have multiple flowers on the spike like citrata?

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  4. I'm sad, I just realized I can't be in the drawing because the transportation to FL at this time of year for plants is impossible, they would cook in the back of a mail truck. I may find this plant on my own, though, at a garden shop, and try growing it myself. Thanks for telling us about it!
    -Marla

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    Replies
    1. Marla, I imagine any Aerangis would grow just fine at 74 degrees year-round. My plants don't have that luxury, since they're in a greenhouse that gets hot in summer and cold in winter.

      I doubt that you'll find one at a garden center, since they're a "niche orchid". But in Florida, who knows. You also have some nice native epiphytic orchids that might be persuaded to grow on your dune.

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  5. I am so sad I didn't read your post yesterday. I looooove orchids. I have 10-15 around the house. Some of them don't want to give me flowers anymore but I can't give up on them.

    I am sure the winner of this draw will love the orchid. It sounds amazing.

    Celina

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  6. Celina, You weren't too late. It seems there were only two people actually in the drawing (you and Jeremy), so I flipped a coin and you came up the winner. A plant will be on its way to you as soon as I can get to the post office. I have your mailing address.

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  7. Oh my God Ellen. Thank you!
    If there is something I enjoy more than perfumes... That is orchids. Promissed to take care of her.

    Thank you!

    Celina

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